Malema can address troops - expert

2012-09-13 14:08

Malema on a mission

2012-09-12 16:56

Watch Julius Malema address soldiers in civilian dress at the Lenasia Recreation Centre, south of Johannesburg. He described SA as a "banana republic" that does not follow the rule of law.WATCH

 Johannesburg - Expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema can legally address SA National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers who are in civilian dress or off-duty, a constitutional expert said on Thursday.

"As far as I know, there is also no law that specifically prohibits a private citizen from addressing troops - even if that private citizen is Julius Malema and even if he criticises the government of the day," law expert Pierre de Vos said in his blog, Constitutionally Speaking.

On Wednesday, Malema addressed about 60 soldiers in civilian dress at the Lenasia Recreation Centre.
The SANDF said on Thursday that it would seek legal advice on Malema's address to soldiers.

"We want to understand the legality of it and the implication. The meeting between Mr Malema and SANDF members... we need to find the legal basis of that," said Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga.

'Out of order'

"We cannot think that any member of the public can just go and talk to members of the SANDF."
Mabanga said it was also unacceptable for SANDF members to invite a person to address them outside defence structures.

"Anybody outside the established military structure and the South African government, that would be out of order. Even if they invited a pastor, or a priest or a bishop or a sangoma, or whatever," Mabanga said.

He said SANDF members who had grievances should use existing structures to voice them and not air them with private individuals such as Malema.

De Vos said SANDF members were not expected to be apolitical or not to have their own private beliefs.

They could be politically active as long as they obeyed legal orders from their superiors.

Rights of soldiers

He said a "blanket ban" on soldiers attending Malema's speech was probably unjustifiable.

"If this were a blanket ban on the attendance of soldiers (whether on duty and in uniform or not), the instruction almost certainly imposed an unjustifiable limitation on the rights of soldiers to take part in [any] political activity," De Vos said.

Soldiers who were off-duty and in civilian garb could attend a political gathering, as long as that gathering was not unlawful.

"However, on-duty soldiers or soldiers in uniform who did attend may well face disciplinary charges and, plausibly, even dismissal," De Vos said.

He said the law did put limits on the rights of soldiers to engage in protests or demonstrations. These rights might be limited if they were needed to maintain military discipline.

"Reports indicate that the defence force had prohibited its members from attending the Malema event (one assumes because it was thought necessary to maintain military discipline)," De Vos said.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told SABC radio on Wednesday that Malema seemed bent on turning soldiers against the state.

Military disciplinary code

"You can't just go on and on and on, and be going around mobilising funeral gatherings and agitating people to become ungovernable," she said.

"What are the consequences? I wish I knew. What I do know is that any responsible citizen in South Africa cannot associate him or herself with a person who wants to agitate and mobilise members of the SANDF against the state because they have concerns," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

Malema spoke to a smaller crowd, of about 60, than was anticipated at Lenasia on Wednesday.

He criticised the political leadership of the country and accused it of ignoring the needs of SANDF members, including not re-instating the 1 100 soldiers put on special leave for protesting at the Union Buildings in 2009.

Mabanga said some of the 60 soldiers at Malema's speech were among the 1 100 members put on special leave and they could face disciplinary action for their attendance.

"They still fall under the military disciplinary code. They're still members of the SANDF," Mabanga said.

He said they had been ordered to return to their home units and would now be charged with failing to obey that order.

Some of the other SANDF members had already been dismissed and the military therefore had no jurisdiction over them.
Read more on:    sandf  |  julius malema  |  pierre de vos  |  military

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Watch: Investing in the future through child development

An investment of R32-million into 11 early childhood development centres is changing the future for children in the Northern Cape.

Partner Content
What all investors should know about index investing

Index-linked investments are growing fast in popularity globally, and are growing in size and complexity too.


8 great natural remedies for your pet

Tips and tricks to cure your pet’s itches and coughs, naturally.



Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
WATCH: These funny animal videos will make you LOL!
11 animals before and after they were adopted from shelters
Competition pet grooming – creative or too extreme?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.